Thanksgiving gives us a chance to pull out all the stops when hosting friends and family for a festival meal, and according to the 2022 Butterball Thanksgiving Outlook Report, 90% of Americans are planning to celebrate the holiday.
And while concerns about food cost inflation are peppering holiday planning, 85% of hosts are still planning to have a traditional turkey, no matter what it costs. After two years of unusual Thanksgiving weeks due to the pandemic, people are eager to host as normal an event as they can, complete with trendy dishes and family favorites.
So what are the top food trends to expect at Thanksgiving this year? Here are five things you might see:
How to save money on a Thanksgiving turkey
While you may not be willing to negotiate on having a turkey as the star of your Thanksgiving table, there are ways to handle this year’s inflation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, Food prices are up 11% over last October, and uncooked poultry, including turkey, had its largest-ever annual price increase, jumping up 17%. Throw in the bird flu decimating poultry stock this year and it might be hard to find what you’re looking for.
Check your local grocery prices against competitors before buying and grab a bird early if you can. You can also opt for two smaller turkeys instead of one large one. In a recent interview with USA Today, Institute of Culinary Education Chef-Instructor Stephen Chavez suggested a great way to cut costs is simply to cut portion sizes so there won’t be as many leftovers.
“Think smaller portions,” Chavez said, suggesting that, for example, if you want turkey, opt to get a turkey breast instead of purchasing a full bird or choose to roast a chicken instead.
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Plan for gluten-free, vegetarian Thanksgiving dishes
Since even canned fruits and vegetables have increased in price over the last year, consider knocking sausage or bacon out of your family’s side recipes. Meat products are expensive, so it’ll be one less thing to buy — but it also makes your sides and entrees vegetarian, keeping your dishes both accessible and on-trend.
With the rise in popularity of plant-based foods, it’s not hard to find meat alternatives or delicious vegetarian recipes. The trend is something you can see on menus across Louisville, like at NuLu’s Everyday Kitchen, 552 E. Market St., which has a half-dozen vegetarian dishes on the menu, including black bean hummus and pumpkin bisque soup.
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Order a takeout Thanksgiving meal
This time, mom loses the “we have food at home” argument. In 2022 it may average out cheaper to order a takeout Thanksgiving meal than cook it yourself. According to the Consumer Price Index, prices for food at home rose more than 12% over the last year, compared to 8.6% for food away from home.
The pandemic has expanded the way restaurants operate, and many now offer family meals, call-ahead holiday meals, and other specials. In a previous interview withThe Courier Journal, Kara Nielson, a director of Food & Drink for WGSN, a global authority on consumer and design trends, said now that people are well-practiced with takeout, it’ll come more naturally.
“A takeout Thanksgiving is being driven by restaurants and food outlets that have gotten really expert at delivery menus during COVID-19,” she said. “We have, as consumers, delighted in more kinds of restaurant food at home.”
In Louisville, more than 20 restaurants and grocery stores are offering Thanksgiving meals for dine-in and to-go guests, including Cracker Barrel, Churchill Downs, Joe Huber’s Family Farm & Restaurant, Proof on Main, and Brooklyn & The Butcher.
Thanksgiving meals:Here are 20+ places to dine in or grab a meal to-go for Thanksgiving around Louisville
Shop smart or opt for a potluck-style Thanksgiving
This is the year for additional grocery math. Check your prices against your time available to see if you’d prefer to make or buy Thanksgiving pies this year. In many cases, pre-made items are much more expensive than making things yourself, chef-instructor Chavez told USA Today.
Instead of making a pumpkin pie, buy a can of pumpkin pie filling and crust and make it yourself, he suggested. And if your guest list is larger, you can make it a Thanksgiving potluck so no one person has to bear the cost alone.
Here’s a tip if you have a smaller group: individual desserts. Georgia’s Sweet Potato Pie Company makes mini sweet potato pies — they’re basically like a lighter, healthier version of pumpkin pie — as well as full pies for pick-up. The individual pies are $5.50 each and full pies are about $30.
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Skip the alcohol and serve elevated mocktails
If your guests want to bring a bottle of bourbon or a case of beer over, fine, but you don’t have to serve it. Be kind to your wallet by skipping the alcohol in your drinks this Thanksgiving. Thoughtfully made, well-blended mocktails are becoming more and more popular and can be just as delicious as an alcoholic drink. Hibiscus is one of the most trendy flavors of the year, so try a zero-proof hibiscus cranberry punch or an adjusted Hibiscus Highball. Think of flavor profiles you like best in drinks and pick contrasting flavors to balance it out — and don’t forget the garnish.
“With nonalcoholic spirits, you don’t get that aromatic from the base spirit, so what you can do is replace it with well-chosen garnishes like fresh herbs, fruit, spritzes of aromatic tinctures on top,” Bourbon Women board chair Heather Wibbels said in a previous interview. “Put it right next to the straw so you inhale before you take a sip, to pump up the impression of the flavor in the drink. It makes a huge difference.”
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Reach food reporter Dahlia Ghabour at [email protected]
Zero-proof Hibiscus-Cranberry Punch
Courtesy of Karla Green, Watch Hill Proper
- 1-ounce hibiscus syrup (recipe below)
- 2 ounces of organic cranberry juice
- 2 ounces of white soda (ginger ale, sprite)
- squeeze of lime
- garnish with clove-studded orange wheels and fresh cranberries
Fill a tall glass with ice and build the cocktail. For a light ABV version, substitute the soda with sparkling wine, like Processo.
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1/4 cup dried hibiscus flowers
- 2 cups hot water
Add 2 cups of white sugar and 1/4 cup of dried hibiscus flowers to a 32-ounce Mason jar. Pour 2 cups of hot water (not boiling) into the jar, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. After the sugar has dissolved, leave the hibiscus flowers to steep until the syrup has cooled. Strain off flowers and seal the jar. The syrup will keep for about a week in the fridge when sealed and stored properly.